Getting a Job After University: Where to Begin

Feeling overwhelmed by the thought of graduation? Check out this blog post where Cheap Students covers how to beef up your resume, and better prepare yourself for graduation.

Grocery Shopping Basics

An introduction on how to grocery shop better, save money and cut down on grocery bills in the future. Contains links to Canadian grocery flyers as well as prices to look for.

Textbooks: A How to Guide

A post covering how to purchase and sell textbooks at the beginning of each semester. Textbooks often cost quite a lot purchased brand new, use these tips to save money on your next textbook purchases.

Learning Tab

Check out the learning tab to view free online resources where you can learn new languages, develop your computer skills and find ways to further develop your resume.

Job Hunting

Check out the job hunting section, filled with resume, cover letter and job interview tips and resources all to help throughout the job hunting process.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Kitchen Food Essentials: Pantry & Fridge

When moving into a new house, or moving back into your old one, you may be quick to realize that you have very little in terms of food and don't know where to begin. Just like kitchen utensils, you do need a quite a few ingredients here and there in order to get a meal together. There are a few shelf-stable/non-perishable things that you should always have around, the fresh stuff is mostly up to you.

The Essentials;
-Spray Oil/Cooking Oil
-Tomato Sauce (Canned/in Jars)
-Canned/Frozen Veggies & Fruits
-Kraft Dinner/Mr Noodles
-Chicken/Beef/Beans or your choice of protein
-Some sort of fruit (if you do that) - or assorted fruit juices :S
-Canned Tuna/Chicken/Ham

The Essential Spices (if you actually use spices)
-Red Pepper Flakes
-Garlic Powder or real garlic. You can also buy pre-chopped garlic in a jar.
-Seasoning Salt (awesome on fries)
-Steak spice (for chicken and of course steak)
Check out a more comprehensive list here (if you really are dedicated chef)

Now I have just given you the basics. Most of the food choices you make are going to be more specific to allergies, tastes and cooking abilities. A few good frozen foods are always a good call in case you haven't made it to the grocery store.

What's the number 1 food item you can't live without?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Printers: The Place Where Money Goes to Die

I am assuming most students are aware of how much of a money pit printers can be. They eat up your money when you first buy them, when you print and when you have to refill the ink, oh and you have to buy paper too.

A $50 printer that came at a discount when you bought your laptop can cost you more than 3 times that by the end of your undergrad, simply because the cartridges are ridiculously expensive (usually around $20 a shot-and that's if you're only buying a black and white cartridge).

So I have decided to investigate, and figure out how to save money on that big printing machine taking up a large spot on my desk by breaking down how much I have spent/will spend on the current printer I have.

Cost of a printer. $50 at Futureshop
Brand: HP
Cost of replacement cartridges: $22-$45 (Regular to XL-3x the printing)
Since a lot of my courses require printed notes I go through about 2 cartridges a semester, which ends up working out to me buying a new printer every semester.
I have owned this printer since 2009 (when I started university) and haven't purchased a colour cartridge once (since they cost more-and who needs super pretty slides in colour?). The one I do have is on the lowest level of ink now, just so I can keep printing all together. Because some of those clever manufacturers have settings on some printers that prevent you front printing in black and white if you don't have any colour ink left.
Based on 8 semesters of use, the printer will end up costing me approximately;
$50 initial cost (comes with 1 black and white and 1 colour cartridge)
$22*7=$154 ( I am just going to assume that the cartridges that came with the printer lasted 2 months)
Overall a printer that technically cost me $50 (which I thought was this great deal) ends up costing me at least $200. And that's not including paper and the fact that I have cheaped out and not bought and colour ink. 

Now the thought of overpaying in the long run for my printer has got me thinking of alternatives to make it cheaper.

Alternative 1:
Refilling ink cartridges instead of buying new ones.
I have yet to try this, but I have been told it costs about half the price of buying a new cartridge. I have yet to test how long refilled inks last, but I am hoping its not half as long.

Alternative 2:
Buying a laser printer instead of an inkjet one.
Unfortunately this is a better option for people starting at the beginning of their university careers. Laser printers are often more expensive, and the toners (yes toners, not cartridges) are more pricey. BUT toners get you a ton more pages per toner than an ink jet printer and are often more efficient, hence why businesses don't use inkjet printers.
If you are in the later years of you're university career you could possibly split the purchase of a laser printer between room mates

Alternative 3:
Just print off notes at the library
If you are a light user of printers it may make more economical sense to just print at the library. You pay per page, but it may not warrant the need for the purchase of an entire printer and/or a new cartridge that may dry out from lack of use.

If you are considering buying a printer, make that purchase now. Back to School deals are currently on and you can save up to a $100 on some printers. Before you make the impulse buy to get a printer with a laptop (because it's a discount) look up a few things online first;

  • Google the printer model-Check out reviews and see what people are saying. Is the printer efficient on ink? 
  • Certain brands of printers don't have generic cartridge offerings that can cost you a lot less when buying new. Stores like Staples have a generic Staples brand cartridges. Check out this website here to learn how it works. 
  • What functions do you need in a printer? Copy/Scan or just standard printing? If you can get a regular printer for the same price as a printer/copy/scan get the later. The ability to scan and copy certain documents can be a lifesaver.
  • Check what comes with the printer, some don't come with the USB cable to attach to you're computer, and that's another additional cost right there.
Also a few tips from CNet
  • "A multifunction inkjet is a viable option for power users who will make use of the additional copy, fax, and scan options--plus it gives you the flexibility to print in colour when necessary--photo postcards for the family, perhaps? If you decide to head down this path, spend a little extra--more than $100--for a decent model that will be a little faster and won't chew through expensive ink and paper as quickly."
  • CNet also suggests students to consider buying laser printers because of their ability to print a lot more pages on a single toner than multiple inkjet cartridges 
  • Consult the rest of the Printer buying guide here
Source: Image

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Moving into Your Rental Home: Stocking the Place

One of the most exciting points of the school year is the first few days back, seeing all of your roommates, meeting new ones and getting back into university life. To make the first few days a bit more enjoyable, less stressful and to make the transition smoother its best to move in and organize your place a bit beforehand. My move into my university student house consisted of various weekends of me dropping old furniture off and other household purchase off as well as painting my room and setting up my bed.

If this entire task seems completely overwhelming and you don't know where to start, where to find furniture to fill your house etc. This post will hopefully lead you on your way.

Where to Get Cheap Furniture
Where you get furniture depends on what you consider gross and unsanitary I guess. For those who would snag a couch sitting at the end of someone's driveway that's all you, and you can probably get it cleaned if you wanted to, and save yourself a ton of money. There are other options and many of them where you can find desks, chairs, kitchen tables, bed frames, dressers etc.

  • Check out garage sales for furniture of all kinds
  • If you have a Habitat ReStore near you, check it out- you're supporting a charity and getting discount furniture
  • Check out Value Village or Goodwill. I have heard of many people snagging tables and other furniture for ridiculously low prices
  • Search through Kijiji and Craigslist people are always selling
  • For inexpensive new furniture check out Ikea or JYSK (A JYSK is opening up in Guelph this August)
  • See if anyone in your family is getting rid of old furniture, you know where it came from and they will often give it to you for FREE. Plus it's often a good excuse for them to get new furniture. Total win for everyone
  • Also talk to the students that previously lived in your home, they are often willing to leave furniture or sell it to you for cheap if they are graduating (they really don't want student furniture any more or don't want to haul it back home)

Decorating Your Room
Some landlords unfortunately don't want you to paint, and often it is a good thing (save yourself a lot of hassle) unless your walls are absolutely disgusting. If you're allowed and want to take on the painting challenge there are some cheap ways of getting it done.

  • Check out Dulux paint stores. They often have a buy 1 get 1 50% off deal. So you can get your paint and primer there. (For most rooms you only need a can any ways).
  • Buy brushes, rollers and other supplies at the dollar store. Dollarama is a great place to check.
  • For doing edges snag yourself some painters tape (usually green or blue) if not just freehand away I guess.

In terms of decorating your room there are a few good ways to do it. Check out Walmart for various picture frames, wall art and mirrors etc. They are usually inexpensive, and you can even get digital pictures developed for really cheap there as well. Also consider posters for your walls, the University of Guelph does have a poster sale at the beginning of the year. If not you can also check out

Stocking up the Kitchen
One of the things I realized once I moved away from home was the amount of things that a kitchen has in it and how many gadgets, pots/pans, trays, bowls, plates you need in order to make a meal, the list goes on and on. You begin to quickly realize that if you have any chance of making even Kraft Dinner you need a pot, some sort of stirring object, butter, milk, possibly a colander (that thing that drains the water) and if you're really fancy a bowl to eat it out of. You can see how this all adds up. So I have devised a plan to give you a decent list of all the things you need to stock up you're kitchen. Hope it helps.

Cheap Student's Kitchen List

So where can you get most of this stuff?

  • Check out Canadian Tire for cheap deals on pots, pans, silverware and cooking accessories. Starting August they often have their back to school sales for most school related products.
  • Ikea also has some cheap kitchen accessories. Just don't get sucked in and buy a bunch of unnecessary stuff. It happens I know.
  • Get old pots and pans and baking gear from your parents or relatives. If you want you can try out kijiji and craigslist but it could be a little gross :S up to you.

Other things you may have forgotten
  • Light bulbs! Batteries!-These are the 2 most annoying things ever when they die or burn out. Especially when those batteries are powering your smoke detectors. Have extra's on hand so you can actually sleep through the night when they start dying at 2am.
  • Buy a lot of toilet paper if it's on sale-stock up
  • Garbage, recycling and green bin bags
  • Cleaning supplies; Windex, Toilet Bowl Cleaner, Toilet Bowl brush, All-Purpose cleaner, rags for cleaning, paper towel. And the greatest invention ever..the Magic Eraser
  • Garbage cans for inside your room, for the kitchen and for outside (some of these may have been provided by your landlord)
  • Soaps- Face, hand, body, dish, dishwasher. So many soaps.
  • Snag an extra pair of sheets, you will thank me.
  • Fans and portable heaters. Unless you are rolling in the dough you won't have your AC (if you have it) or heat pumping at all times during the year. These 2 can be a lifesaver.
  • Shot glasses!-Geez people I shouldn't need to remind you.
  • Deck of cards-you never know when you might need them
  • Red Cups and ping pong balls-Just necessary
  • Scotch Tape, Elastics and twist ties. If not I'm sure you will find a creative way to seal/close things..
For the rest you're on your own.

What are some major household products you've forgotten?